Waterfall Wedding Present

07july10casscam 10107july10casscam 102IMG_20141016_16533538011Nov16CassCam 097I 11Nov16CassCam 051generally have an avoidance for painting outdoor scenes.  I think that it’s because if I’m outside, I really have no idea how to focus and frame, unless I’m looking at something small.  This painting and its subject matter came about because of the upcoming (when I started) marriage of Sammi’s best friend Mary and her lovely husband, Daniel.  We decided we would work together to make a gift for them.  At the time, they were living in Kansas, and although I’ve never been to Kansas, I picture it as being rather flat.  We agreed that it would be good to make a painting of a waterfall from Daniel’s hometown to remind them of the east.  Sammi had a really nice picture that she had taken of Taughannock Falls (so she did all of the cropping) that we decided would be great to paint from.  IMG_20140930_135154551

We planed to paint it together, but as I started drawing it out on the board, I felt a panic, like it was totally outside my comfort zone.  I had the feeling that we wouldn’t finish it, but that maybe if I plugged away at it alone it might eventually get it done.  I think I took pictures of the process more to make sure that it got past the point of each photo than to document.  I had never attempted to paint rocks before.  They were tough to get through, as they were just various shades of brown without much excitement.  As I finished those I realized that I hadn’t attempted ice and snow either.  It was much more fun and moved along more quickly, as well as the water.  I saved the details of the falls for the end.  I had painted an under painting and adding the final frozen water was quite enjoyable.  Sammi had the painting framed at Christensen’s Fine Art.  M&D didn’t get the painting until months after the wedding, but they seemed happy with it.

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Something Else I Did Last Summer

easels…Well last spring, really.  For a long while I had been looking for a life painting class to take.  I really enjoy life drawing (although it is somehow really hard to find a class that I can fit in to my life in Peterborough).  There is something very special and magical about human skin and the way light is absorbed and reflected in it.  There is also something very special about finding all of the colours in skin and finding ways to mix them up.  So to my pleasure, I found a Haliburton School of the Arts class which was to be held at Fleming College, not far from my home.  The class, which I can’t find now, was taught by Matthew Mancini.  Here he is.  It was a pretty rad class, although it fell on a bad week (actually a week that got something horrible out of my life, but it was a crap process).  Matthew was an excellent teacher, in a style that I would actually like to devote myself to, if nothing else (money, crippling self-doubt…) were in my way.

The first day was spent on a small painting using only black and white paint.  We were supposed to Alla Prima life paintingblock the basic tones and shapes of the figure.  I hate black paint, the particular black I have makes unappealing blue greys which are thick like toffee and seem to need to be chewed too much to get any kind of gradient.  Needless to say I hate what I ended up with and never want to see it again.

On the second day we did a style called Alla Prima, or what I would have called before that day Painting.  This made me much more comfortable.  He wanted us to really only work on the light portion of the figure and add little or no detail to the dark portion.  Although unfinished (which is pretty generally my painting M.O.) and containing some brushstrokes I regret, I enjoy the result I had for that day.  The model was great and I came up with some good skin tones and some nice suggestion (oooh, the mystery…).  I’m not quite sure what happened with that tiny foot, but I really was (and am) out of practice with the life-drawing and the proportion.

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The rest of the week was spent on one large painting done in the abbreviated style of the old masters.  This involved getting a good drawing (with spirits-diluted mid tone brown), blocking the lights and darks, rounding the light shapes (which was a step that I could not get my brain around…I think that this slowed my progress quite a bit), and finally getting in detail using walnut oil diluted paint (thick over lean).  Because I am generally a slow painter, Matthew suggested choosing an area to work on for the detail work.  I generally like to work from the centre out, so I chose the belly.  …and what a belly it was.  Everyone in the class would take a look at it and say “that’s a belly.”  Oh dear.  Never be a life model for me.  The model was very good and kept her post exactly the same for the three days we worked on it (was it 3?).  I wasn’t intending to make such an unflattering belly, but when I start looking deeply I see all types of translucence and reflection…  Anyway, it is a really odd painting.  I left it in Candace’s old room and whenever she would visit, she would turn it around so she didn’t have to see it.  I wish I could have finished the whole painting.  I think that if it were complete, the belly wouldn’t matter so much.

I completely recommend the class and the teacher.  I forgot that this was actually one of the most stressful and draining weeks of my life.  This may have been part of the reason that I created such an unappealing painting. The belly I also recommend never getting involved in litigation…

Side note:  This should have been my post somewhere in between Candace’s Chutney and Basket posts.  I am painting, you’ll be happy.  I’m working on two right now that I’d hoped would have been done before I needed to post, but neither were.  Hopefully my next post will be on time and a new painting.

Out of turn post

I’m posting early, because Sammi is working away at her sweater for her next post and I don’t want her to rush too much.  So it is me this week instead of her.

out of place post

Well here is a painting.  I painted it a couple of years ago at John Climenhage‘s studio over the shwarma place.  I was having one of those periods where I felt like I should be painting, but couldn’t think of what to paint (where right now I have lots of ideas as to what to paint, but can’t get myself to paint).  John had a book of photos taken during the Afghan war and suggested I paint something from it.  I felt a little uncomfortable painting from someone else’s photo at the time, but sometimes you (I) need to get over stuff like that when you (I) just need to practice.  There were many beautiful and haunting photos, but this boy/young man really stuck with me.   I can’t remember who the photographer is or the name of the book.

It was fairly experimental, you can see a couple of different styles of painting in it and it is definitely not a finished image (me saying this is significant, ’cause I’m normally happy with things before most would consider them finished).  I wish that I had done a little more work on it at the time, as I can never go back to a painting.  This painting might also benefit from some cropping…

I promise that next month I will post something new.

Fancy Florals

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Yet again, I have not produced anything new to post (sigh), although I have been doing some drawing (yay).  I happen to have some pictures of some an experiment I did based on an Art Nouveau poppies I found, probably somwheres on the internet.  First I basically copied the poppies, which was quite pleasant

Then I got excited and stole some images of flowers from good seed catalogues, stylized them and added some half-assed Art Nouveau-y lines.  I left the backgrounds with the wood texture, which makes all the colour stand out.

Unfortunately, it never occurs to me to sand the wood, so edges come out a little more rough than I’d really like.  Or maybe they would just come out a lot differently if I were to do another.


By the third one things were starting to get a little fairy-tale style, which appeals to me on another level.  I really should work more with these.  I know that there is another, unfinished, of geranium; maybe soon I will finish that.





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Can-Can Dancers


I painted this based on a very far off, very zoomed-in photo of Can-Can dancers in the Operetta “La Veuve Joyeuse” which me and Candace saw at the Palais Garnier.

I was trying to loosen up with details and paint a little more freely.  Unfortunately (or not) I didn’t do anything to prepare my rough piece of wood, so it wasn’t so relaxed as I would have liked.